I don't like to make generalizations, but I must say that Black women (and some Black men) really don't like to get their hair wet. Regardless of whether we're relaxed or natural, water simply doesn't play well with our kinks and coils. Even a humid day can wreak havoc on our painstakingly-achieved curl definition, not to mention the extreme shrinkage many of us experience if our hair gets completely drenched in the shower. When you consider how devastatingly quickly moisture can undo hours of hairstyling it's pretty easy to understand why people with afro-textured hair try to wash their hair as infrequently as possible. Of course there are other reasons we postpone wash day, including the fact that our scalps don't readily accumulate oil or dirt. We can't leave our hair unwashed forever, though. At some point we have to give in and get it wet... or do we?
Enter dry shampoo. Even though dry shampoo seems to have taken off in the last couple of years the concept has actually been around for centuries! According to Toni&Guy, Asians were applying clay powder to their tresses back in the 1400s. Dry shampoo has been commercially available for decades and has become popular as more people discover the convenience and styling advantages it provides. However, many of the people who love it so much tend to have type one or two hair (meaning their hair is quite straight). I Googled to see if I could find any curlier-haired people who have tried dry shampoo, and the results were interesting. While many ladies said they liked the product, I noticed four issues with the way it's supposed to be used and how it actually works.
PROBLEM #1: Dry Shampoo is Designed to Cause Dryness
The whole point of dry shampoo is to remove excess oil. This is a huge benefit for those whose hair gets oily quickly. However, the curlier your hair is the less likely it is to get oily, especially if your hair is long. This is because sebum, the nutrient-filled oil produced by your scalp, has a harder time sliding down the hair shaft. Applying dry shampoo to tresses that are already dried out will consequently strip them of what little protective oil they do have. I should mention there are dry shampoos that might work for people with dry hair, but I would only consider it if I had a tonne of product build-up and absolutely could not wash my hair.
PROBLEM #2: Dry Shampoo Must be Brushed or Blowdried Out
Because our hair is so dry, it's also quite brittle. It's a good idea to avoid manipulating it too often so it grows healthy and strong. Manipulation involves anything from braiding and brushing to twirling your hair out of boredom. Any kind of tension or friction exposes the hair shaft to the risk of breaking. That's why you should be careful about how often you change your hairstyles and the tools you use. The trouble with dry shampoo is that it can't just sit on top of your hair. It works best when evenly distributed by either brushing or blowdrying. Even if your hair has been straightened, brushing your hair too regularly or applying heat through a blowdryer can cause irreversible damage over time.
PROBLEM #3: Dry Shampoo Can Cause Itchiness
Your scalp might get agitated and itchy if you accidentally spray dry shampoo too close to your roots. Some people say their scalps get itchy if they apply excessive amounts of dry shampoo to their hair, too. One way to alleviate the itching is to massage your scalp with a light oil, but ironically, the best solution for a super agitated scalp is to actually wash it with water and conditioner!
PROBLEM #4: Dry Shampoo is Supposed to Add Volume and Hold
This is less of an issue and more of an undesired feature, in my honest opinion. My hair grows upwards and outwards instead of downwards because it's so kinky. You've probably noticed that your hair has a natural tendency to grow large if you also have type four curls. Unless you have very fine strands or you want even bigger, badder hair, you probably don't need a product to add more volume to your afro. Similarly, our hair texture is fabulous for holding styles without requiring much product. Whereas people with straight hair need cans and cans of hairspray and a million bobby pins to hold their hair up, ours pretty much stays put wherever we leave it. As such, I think the volume and hold dry shampoo provides are wasted benefits.
With all this in mind, dry shampoo doesn't seem ideal for afro-textured hair. I'm not a hair expert, though, and I'm not trying to refute any existing reviews of dry shampoo; if it works for you, great! I just wanted to write this post because there isn't a lot of information online about how dry shampoo truly works on kinkier hair and drier scalps. If you still really want to avoid washing your hair, check out my other post on how to keep your hair and scalp clean between washes.
Have you used dry shampoo before? Share your experience in a comment below!